The Bayer Science & Education Foundation announced today that it has awarded the Otto Bayer Prize 2016 to LMU‘s Professor of Chemical Genetics Dirk Trauner “for outstanding contributions in the areas of Photopharmacology and Chemical Optogenetics.” Trauner designs and synthesizes light-responsive chemical switches which can be attached to specific receptor proteins on or within cells, thus allowing their biological functions to be optically controlled with high specificity and precision. His work has the potential to open up novel chemotherapeutic strategies, such as effective treatments for congenital and age-related blindness or cancers, as the jury states in its citation.
The Otto Bayer Prize, worth 75,000 euros, is regarded as one of the most prestigious awards available to practitioners of the Natural Sciences in German-speaking countries. According to the Foundation, the distinction is awarded “for groundbreaking contributions to research in innovative areas of biochemistry and chemistry.” The Prize is named after the former Director of Research at Bayer AG who first synthesized polyurethane, and is awarded biannually in alternation with the Hansen Family Prize, which is likewise endowed with the sum of 75.000 euros. The 2016 Prize will be formally presented to Dirk Trauner on June 6th in Berlin.
Professor Dirk Trauner holds the Chair of Chemical Biology and Chemical Genetics at LMU. Born in 1967, Trauner studied Biology and Chemistry at Vienna University and at the Free University in Berlin, and received his doctorate in Chemistry in Vienna. Following a stint as a postdoc at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley in 2006, where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor. In 2008 Trauner was appointed to his present position at LMU. Among other distinctions, he has also received one of the highly prized Advanced Investigator Grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC).
For more on Dirk Trauner’s research, watch the latest LMU ScienceCast:“Photoswitches: A New Addition to the Molecular Toolbox”